Students Ashia Trevor-Massey and Teddy Mckenzie share their view of regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative agriculture: this controversial term is a daily philosophy to some, idealistic concept to others, and an introduction to the future of farming for us.
With the current climate and human health crisis reaching its peak, agriculture is at a critical turning point - particularly when considering the significant impact it has on our environment and diet.
We must decide whether farming contributes to the problems threatening our society, or offers innovative solutions that promote biodiversity, food security, and human well-being. It is a daunting and yet incredibly exciting time be in the industry...
As students, we have accepted the challenge of assessing the current food system, and shaping its future sustainability. This feels like a huge responsibility, as we realise the potential of regenerative agriculture to not only sustain, but regenerate our natural landscapes and wildlife.
Last year, Writtle University College converted a portion of their arable land over to regenerative management, giving us students the exciting opportunity to be involved in the new agroforestry project - planting rows of fruit, nut and timber trees between alleys of crops to support wildlife ecosystems, whilst encouraging beneficial insects that boost crop productivity.
Furthermore, we have met a passionate community of people driving for change that inspire us to continue our journey in farming.
We have been demonstrated the tremendous benefits of diversifying crop rotations: utilising cover crops, for example, to maximise carbon sequestration and reduce soil erosion. Or intercropping wheat and nitrogen-fixing beans, encouraging circular resource management by reducing reliance on synthetic fertilisers. On top of this, both of these practices support wildlife and soil organisms, by providing a wider variety of feed and habitat.
...and it doesn't stop there! Regenerative agriculture takes a holistic approach towards the food system that strengthens local communities and food culture.
Many farmers have begun to sell direct to the customer through farm shops, empowering them by giving them control over their produce and reconnecting the public with those that produce their food.
What's more, Community Service Agriculture encourages locality and seasonality, which lowers food miles and fosters a more resilient food system, whilst offering people the opportunity to be more green-fingered, which we ourselves have found to be an incredible way to unwind and meet new people!
All in all, we believe regenerative agriculture offers many remarkable benefits, but perhaps none more than the hope it gives the younger generation.
Due to the current state of the world, our futures are uncertain, but we are optimistic thanks to the farmers challenging the norm and experimenting with regenerative practices, to refine them for future generations!
It has been so important for us to see industry pioneers adapting their methods to invest in our futures, and we hope to continue the revolution that they have begun.
For more information on Writtle University College's agriculture courses, go to writtle.ac.uk/agriculture.